So what is it that makes a professional a GREAT professional for us on the autism spectrum? What are we hoping for and looking for? Diagnosis? Support? Advice? Explanation? Or perhaps identity? Yes it could be as simple as that.
Let’s look at what some of us have to go through to seek whatever it is we are looking for.
Multiple appointments, multiple headaches, multiple repetitive information ‘sharing’, multiple journeys; possibly leading to multiple meltdowns and chaotic lives. Do we need this? Well do we? The simple answer is NO.
Why would we as clients, parents, families do this to ourselves? We can’t surely enjoy it? But maybe the professionals think we actually enjoy being inside a wicker basket and passed from pillar to post.
So what makes the PERFECT PROFESSIONAL?
Let’s take some time to digest this from Theo Peters a Belgian Neurolinguist, some of these words has been adapted by Professor Olga Bogdashina
Olga Bogdashina, has worked extensively in the field of autism as teacher, lecturer and researcher, with a particular interest in sensory-perceptual and communication problems in autism. She has an excellent understanding of the whole subject and lectures extensively. She has a son with autism. A passage taken from Professor Olga Bogdashina book The Theory of Mind and the Triad of Perspective on Autism and Asperger Syndrome: A View from the Bridge
"Sometimes I say, rather ironically, that what we need is not more psychologists but more anthropologists who have learned to look at other cultures without prejudices. We need each other: people with autism need us because they have to learn about our culture or behaviour. But if we want to understand autism better, we need much closer collaboration with people who understand autism from within – that is, the people with autism themselves. So I really feel we are entering a new era in which at least some people with autism will be our collaborators. We have to learn to respect each other"
Theo Peters in an interview with Adam Feinstein in 2003
What makes a Good Autism Professional?
- To be attracted by differences
- To have a vivid imagination, not restricted by “mindsets
- To be able to give without getting (ordinary) thank yous
- To be willing and able to adapt one’s natural style of communication and social interaction
- To have the courage “to work alone in the desert” and, possibly, to be criticised instead of being applauded for one’s enormous efforts.
- Never to be satisfied with how much one knows Learning about autism and educational strategies is continuous. “The professional who thinks he has found it has lost it.” Training in autism is never “finished
- Accept that each bit of progress brings a new problem. Once you start you know the “detective” work is never over.
- Be prepared to change one’s views if they turn out to be wrong. Not to be ashamed of saying. “Sorry I was wrong. Let’s do it otherwise”…
- One needs to be prepared to work in a team. Because the approach needs to be coherent and consistent, all professionals need to be informed about the efforts of others and the levels of help they provide.
- One needs to be humble. We may be experts in autism in general, but parents are the experts about their own children and we need to take into account their wisdom. The professional who wants to stay
- 'on their pedestal' is not needed in autism. When collabortating with parents it is important to talk about successes, but also admit failures (" please help me")